Zhang Lin Hai's paintings, based on his experiences of growing up in the remote villages of Northern China, are imbued with a haunting psychological intensity and otherworldliness. Although he was born in Shanghai in 1963, he was given up for adoption shortly after birth, and was brought by his adoptive parents to the remote and impoverished She County in the Tai Hang Mountains. During his childhood he fell severely ill to a variety of diseases that nearly cost him his life. On top of the emotional scarring caused by his illnesses, he was also deeply affected by the Cultural Revolution. As a young boy he witnessed the ubiquitous mass rallies and denunciations of which his adoptive father (a local teacher) also became a victim. As Zhang recalls, "It was early in the year 1969. There was much noise outside, screaming and shouting, and chanting of slogans. I pushed myself through the crowds that gathered to see what all the commotion was about. Then I saw a man, wearing a white paper hat and a wooden board, being pushed around violently and shouted at by the people that surrounded him. Only after a little while did I realise it was my father. My world was shattered" (Zhang quoted in Zhang Lin Hai - Light & Shadow, exh. cat., Museum Küpersmühle, May 2005, p. 34). His compositions, filled with images of bald-headed children set against arid landscapes or cold stone buildings symbolize the suffering caused by his painful memories of his childhood and adolescence. The characteristic greys of Zhang's muted and somber palette bring a distressing and poignant quality to the composition. The remote, bare, rocky landscape acts as an instrument to navigate the expansive landscape of memory through locally specific symbols and typographical references.